Film Review: Delivery Man

Promising comedic premise is undone by sloppy scripting and way-too-easy, ultra-bland choices in its execution.  

Reviews

One can easily imagine the ecstasy which greeted the pitch for Delivery Man: "Vince Vaughn plays schlubby, commitment-phobic loser David Wozniak, who, as a former sperm donor, discovers that he has anonymously fathered 533 kids and goes in search of them!" Fiendishly clever, right? A natural for the malls!

This remake of the recent Canadian comedy Starbuck is rather less than that. Despite the admittedly bright concept, it is too full of holes and improbabilities to really score comedically.

Delivery Man focuses on David's relationships with about five of his progeny, so we are left to bizarrely imagine that he has also exhaustingly sought out the other hundred or so kids who have expressed interest in reconnecting with him, and join in during the inevitable, climactic group hugs. All five of the chosen ones are white, and this lack of diversity, which has David dealing with a barista, a street musician, a perky drug addict, a lifeguard and a bothersome nerd (the only one to know his secret), brings a stultifying blandness to the proceedings. When David pulls one kid's profile from an envelope and she turns out to be part black, he goes "Yes!" but, apart from his getting a pedicure from her, nothing more is made of this prospective storyline. Of course, we never see anything of the children's other parents and must take it on faith that they all have their blessing to go and seek out the hapless David. Add to this the fact that although David is a seemingly constant presence at their "Find Our Dad" meetings, not one of them has the gray matter to say, "Hey, that old guy in our midst! Could it possibly be him?!" Even David's choice of a pseudonym when he was a sperm donor says unimaginative, craven volumes: "Starbuck."

Vaughn retains his Everyman husky affability, but I'd rather see Kevin James do this kind of hokum. David's Polish butcher family background seems a desperate attempt to lend him some kind of individuality, with one of those tiresome, wise and crusty Old World dads and a wasted Bobby Moynihan as one of two interchangeably doofus brothers. Vaughn has also been given one of those snippy, dissatisfied eternal fiancées that are a hoary comic staple, and snippy Cobie Smulders does little to redeem the cliché. Jack Reynor brings some likeable truth to the part of the barista who's a wannabe actor, but the most appealing performer is the always good Chris Pratt as Brett, a harried single-dad lawyer and best bud who represents David in court, and has way more chemistry with Vaughn than Smulders.